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REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk at Newcastle Pantodrome
Puns Galore At The
Jack and the
Times Square Pantodrome
Saturday 30th December 2017
So, what is
it like? The answer is simple. Jack is a very good pantomime. This is Christmas
show #11 and we laughed and we laughed. In fact, just like the first time I saw
the movie Airplane, I need to watch it again as I missed jokes as I was still
laughing at the previous one. A great
script performed by a cracking little cast has resulted in a panto that deserves
to do well. Surprised? To be honest, we were. But it just goes to show: ‘don’t
believe everything you read on the internet.’
with the venue. The Pantodrome is set in Times Square next to the Centre of
Life. Not so much a tent as a proper
temporary building with proper raked seating so you don’t get a view of someone’s
head like you might if it was a gym floor. I had plenty of leg room which was
nice. The toilets were more in keeping with a decent restaurant (hand lotion
indeed!) and the heating was working so well that I was still hot after
removing my coat. So far, so good. Hopefully
the bar staff will pick up speed too during the interval.
Onto the production.
Nice Swan have been putting on panto in Gateshead for some time and we
enjoyed Aladdin last year in Whickham.
The Tom Whalley script has tried to cram as many jokes and puns in as it
could. It is rare for a character to speak without a funny line in there
somewhere. My son called the show the funniest one he has seen yet… high praise
Fleshcreep (Stephen Sullivan) is the Giant’s henchman and he is given the job
of capturing the Princess Jill (Helen Slade) for his master. Coming to the
rescue is poor Jack (Adam Thomas), his mother Dame Patsy Trott (Daniel Mawston),
his brother Simple Simon (Sam Glen) and their guardian spirit Mother Nature
(Karleigh Wright). This is a rags to riches tale as the Trotts are very poor, thanks
to the taxes of the King Fenwick (Daniel Hope), and so they have to sell their
one remaining asset Daisy The Cow (Nicky Flynn).
Adam Thomas and Sam Glen have taken to panto like ducks to water. Clearly
feeding off the responses of the audience they clearly were enjoying the
experience. Daniel Mawston was impressive as the panto dame last year and he
continues to grow in the role. The fact that these three were able to react in
a positive way to any audience reaction or what happened in stage helped make
any unexpected event become a moment of positive laughter. This included reacting
to a great heckle from a child after the audience were asked to be louder “but
they’re all shy” – priceless.
usually has a local element but the local writer has tried to capture the local
rivalry more than most. The heroes are Geordies and the giant is a Mackem. Regular
reference is made to the outsider status held by Mancunian Adam Thomas too.
come from panto regular Stephen Sullivan who courts the boos whenever possible.
It is a physical role which Sullivan does well resulting in plenty of reaction
from the crowd. He even gets his own song to open the second act which went down
Wright has stepped in to cover the role of Mother Earth. Her onstage charm quickly
won the audience over. She wasn’t entirely off book yet, but she had only
picked up the role yesterday. Karleigh worked well opposite Stephen Sullivan in
their good versus evil battles. She also gelled well with the good guys when
they headed off to defeat the giant too. I’m sure that in no time at all she
will have transformed the role into her own.
The bulk of
the singing duties are handled by the accomplished Helen Slade as the Princess.
Her voice is as good as any we’ve heard so far in panto this season. A number of dancers appeared occasionally and
did a fine job when on stage but they didn’t have that many opportunities to
dance. In fact unlike some pantos, bulking the show out with too many romantic
numbers that make the kids switch off has been avoided.
mistakes made? Of course they were – it is panto and that’s part of the fun,
especially at the start of the run. It is the way in which cast and the
audience responds that helps make the show a success. Daniel Mawston, in
particular, was very adept to spot and resolve any situation such as the cars
turning circle not quite missing the scenery.
Jack and the
Beanstalk is a worthy Christmas night out. Whilst it is a traditional panto, it
isn’t stale. It may have old jokes, but they play like panto’s greatest hits. The
cast are really engaging and time quickly flies by. The show really cheered my
family up. A canny local panto by all accounts.
Stephen Oliver Photos: www.princewor.com